Hobbits and Middle-earthers - and Peter Jackson and Gollum - fasten their seat belts

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn't open until December 14, but if you want a close-up sneak-peek at some of its cast members -- and others sporting the Middle-earth makeup effects that turn lowly human actors into hobbits, wizards, maidens and warriors, Air New Zealand's new in-flight video, "An Unexpected Briefing," is a must-see.

The video is a shamelessly merry cross-promotion between the Kiwi airline, and The Hobbit movie, which, of course, was shot in New Zealand -- our planet's closest approximation to J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginary land, Middle-earth. Scan the aisles of the Boeing 777 for cameos by Dean O’Corman (the actor who plays Fili in The Hobbit), Mike and Royd Tolkien (great-grandsons of The Lord of the Rings author), Larry Curtis and Cliff Broadway from The One Ring (the world's largest Tolkien fan site), Hobbit and LOTR auteur Jackson himself, and that slinking, slimy ring-thief, Gollum.

The new "Air Middle-earth" in-flight safety vid and Air New Zealand/Hobbit campaign is accompanied by a contest to win a trip to New Zealand. Details of that here. Fasten your seat belt, quick smart!